In Northern California, and to the many cities under its influence, one gangster rapper has seen his street fame snowball in the past year. Mozzy, who was releasing tapes as early as 2010 under the name Lil Tim, is a rapper with a particularly dark and violent perspective. A representative of Sacramento's rough Oak Park neighborhood, Mozzy (the name is short for mozzarella, as in cheese, as in money) takes a lyrical approach almost entirely centered around first-person violence. It makes no qualms about this being its singular focus, explicitly drawing attention to its glorification: "Hella niggas started dying, I'm the one influenced that," he says matter-of-factly on "Bladadah," his most popular single to date now nearing 1 million views on YouTube with little to no media coverage. This style might remind listeners of drill music in its ceaseless fixation on violence, a violence that feels so purposeless and depressing. But in fact, there's a long tradition of dark gangster music in Sacramento; the moral and ethical complications of the way the music bleeds into reality have been present since at least C-Bo's heyday. The other thing that differentiates him from Chicago's scene is that he takes this narrow worldview and presents it over contrasting smooth, almost lite jazz (see the "You Are My Starship" saxophone of "Love Slidin") production on his latest album Bladadah, rather than the complementary cement-block beats of Chicago producers. This creates a strange cognitive dissonance, as the music underlines a bleak worldview in sunset colors.

Mozzy's lyrical innovation is a disciplined style that is ascetically stripped down, laser-beam precise in its attention to the act of murder as a day-to-day, minute-to-minute obsession. Trying to make this music about something else—downplaying its fundamental glorification of violence in favor of its aesthetic properties—feels impossible. This purposeful writing leaves listeners hanging on his words, even as they prioritize directness over wordplay. That said, he does have a gift for subtly evocative turns of phrase and imagery ("Macintosh hanging from an Air Force shoelace," "All this fonk will have you fallin' off like a bike chain") and a self-awareness ("I know it ain't no future in this way of livin/The way we livin? Either death or on our way to prison/If you ain't shootin' you's a victim, make a decision") that reinforces a feeling of hopelessness. Understandably, Mozzy will not be for everyone. This is brutal music, and it forces you to confront that fact: There are no escape hatches. For those who wish to see Sacramento through eyes that are not so compromised, JR & PH7 and Chuuwee's The South Sac Mack takes a more traditional tack to great effect.